Posts Tagged ‘pwnitter’

Pwnitter

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Uh, I totally forgot to blog about a funny thing that happened almost a year ago which I just mentioned slightly *blush*. So you probably know this Internet thing and if you’re one of the chosen and carefully gifted ones, you confused it with the Web. And if you’re very special you do this Twitter thing and expose yourself and your communications pattern to some dodgy American company. By now, all of the following stuff isn’t of much interest anymore, so you might as well quit reading.

It all happenend while being at FOSS.in. There was a contest run by Nokia which asked us to write some cool application for the N900. So I did. I packaged loads of programs and libraries to be able to put the wireless card into monitor mode. Then I wiretapped (haha) the wireless and sniffed for Twitter traffic. Once there was a Twitter session going on, I sniffed the necessary authentication information was extracted and a message was posted on the poor user’s behalf. I coined that Pwnitter, because it would pwn you via Twitter.

That said, we had great fun at FOSS.in, where nearly everybodies Twitter sessions got hijacked ;-) Eventually, people stopped using plain HTTP and moved to end to end encrypted sessions via TLS.

Anyway, my program didn’t win anything because as it turned out, Nokia wanted to promote QML and hence we were supposed to write something that makes use of that. My program barely has a UI… It is made up of one giant button…

Despite not getting lucky with Nokia, the community apparently received the thing very well.

So there is an obvious big elephant standing in the room asking why would you want to “hack” Twitter. I’d say it’s rather easy to answer. The main point being that you should use end to end encryption when doing communication. And the punchline comes now: Don’t use a service that doesn’t offer you that by default. Technically, it wouldn’t be much of a problem to give you an encrypted link to send your messages. However, companies tend to be cheap and let you suffer with a plain text connection which can be easily tapped or worse: manipulated. Think about it. If the company is too frugal to protect your communication from pimpled 13yr olds with a wifi card, why would you want to use their services?

By now Twitter (actually since March 2011, making it more than 6 month ago AFAIK) have SSL enabled by default as far as I can tell. So let’s not slash Twitter for not offering an encrypted link for more than 5 years (since they were founded back in 2006). But there are loads of other services that suffer from the very same basic problem. Including Facebook. And it would be easy to adapt the existing solution stuff like Facebook, flickr, whatnot.

A noteable exception is Google though. As far as I can see, they offer encryption by default except for the search. If there is an unencrypted link, I invite you to grab the sources of Pwnitter and build your hack.

If you do so, let me give you an advise as I was going nuts over a weird problem with my Pwnitter application for Maemo. It’s written in Python and when building the package with setuptools the hashbang would automatically be changed to “#!/scratchbox/tools/bin/python“, instead of, say, “/usr/bin/python“.

I tried tons of things for many hours until I realised, that scratchbox redirects some binary paths.

However, that did not help me to fix the issue. As it turned out, my problem was that I didn’t depend on a python-runtime during build time. Hence the build server picked scratchbox’s python which was located in /scratchbox/bin.

FOSS.in last edition 2010

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

I had the pleasure to be invited to FOSS.in 2010. As I was there to represent parts of GNOME I feel obliged to report what actually happened.

The first day was really interesting. It was very nice to see that many people having a real interest in Free Software. It was mostly students that I have talked to and they said that Free Software was by far not an issue at colleges in India.

Many people queued up to register for the conference. That’s very good to see. Apparently, around 500 people showed up to share the Free Software love. the usual delays in the conference setup were there as expected ;-) So the opening ceremony started quite late and started, as usual, with lighting the lamp.

Danese from the Wikimedia Foundation started the conference with her keynote on the technical aspects of Wikipedia.

She showed that there is a lot of potential for Wikipedia in India, because so far, there was a technical language barrier in Wikipedia’s software. Also, companies like Microsoft have spent loads of time and money on wiping out a free (software) culture, hence not so many Indians got the idea of free software or free content and were simply not aware of the free availability of Wikipedia.

According to Danese, Wikipedia is the Top 5 website after companies like Google or Facebook. And compared to the other top websites, the Wikimedia Foundation has by far the least employees. It’s around 50, compared to the multiple tens of thousands of employees that the other companies employ. She also described the openness of Wikipedia in almost every aspect. Even the NOC is quite open to the outside world, you can supposedly see the network status. Also, all the documentation is on the web about all the internal process so that you could learn a lot about the Foundation a lot if you wanted to.

She presented us several methods and technologies which help them to scale the way the Wikipedia does, as well as some very nerdy details like the Squid proxy setup or customisations they made to MySQL. They are also working on offline delivery methods because many people on the world do not have continuous internet access which makes browsing the web pretty hard.

After lunch break, Bablir Singh told us about caching in virtualised environments. He introduced into a range of problems that come with virtualisation. For example the lack of memory and that all the assumption of caches that Linux makes were broken when virtualising.
Basically the problem was that if a Linux guest runs on a Linux host, both of them would cache, say, the hard disk. This is, of course, not necessary and he proposed two strategies to mitigate that problem. One of them was to use a memory balloon driver and give the kernel a hint that the for the caching allocated pages should be wiped earlier.

Lenny then talked about systemd and claimed that it was Socket Based Activation that made it so damn fast. It was inspired by Apples launchd and performs quite well.

Afterwards, I have been to the Meego room where they gave away t-shirts and Rubix-cubes. I was told a technique on how to solve the Rubix-cube and I tried to do it. I wasn’t too successful though but it’s still very interesting. I can’t recite the methods and ways to solve the cube but there are tutorials on the internet.

Rahul talked about failures he seen in Fedora. He claimed that Fedora was the first project to adopt a six month release cycle. He questioned whether six month is actually a good time frame. Also the governance modalities were questioned. The veto right in the Fedora Board was prone to misuse. Early websites were ugly and not very inviting. By now, the website is more appealing and should invite the audience to contribute. MoinMoin was accused of not being as good MediaWiki, simply because Wikipedia uses MediaWiki. Not a very good reasoning in my opinion.

I was invited to do a talk about Security and Mobile Devices (again). I had a very interested audience which pulled off an interesting Q&A Session. People still come with questions and ideas. I just love that. You can find the slides here.

As we are on mobile security, I wrote a tiny program for my N900 to sidejack Twitter accounts. It’s a bit like firesheep, but does Twitter only (for now) and it actually posts a nice message. But I’ve also been pnwed;-)

But more on that in a separate post.


Unfortunately, the FOSS.in team announced, that this will be the last FOSS.in they organise. That’s very sad because it was a lot of fun with a very interesting set of people. They claim that they are burnt out and that if one person is missing, nothing will work, because everyone knew exactly what role to take and what to do. I don’t really like this reasoning, because it reveals that the Busfactor is extremely low. This, however, should be one of the main concerns when doing community work. Hence, the team is to blame for having taken care of increasing the Busfactor and thus leading FOSS.in to a dead end. Very sad. But thanks anyway for the last FOSS.in. I am very proud of having attended it.